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A.I.: A Spielberg/Kubrick prod’n

GOOD MORNING: What would Stanley Kubrick have thought of “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”? “He would have applauded,” Jan Harlan said to me. Harlan, Kubrick’s brother-in-law, close friend and creator of the WB Home Video “Stanley Kubrick, A Life In Pictures,” added, “Steven was very faithful to Stanley’s vision of the film and at the same time, expressed his own genius. I was moved by every one of his frames. It is a milestone of cinema history.” Harlan saw it completed for the first time two weeks ago at WB with Kathleen Kennedy, who produced with Spielberg and Bonnie Curtis: “I was flabbergasted.” Jan saw it again in New York with Kubrick’s widow (and Harlan’s sister) Christiane, who echoed Harlan’s opinion. Harlan recalled the meeting in 1995 when Kubrick asked Steven for the first time if he would consider directing the movie. “It was then a proposal,” said Harlan. “He (Kubrick ) showed Steven 650 drawings he had made with his vision of the film. It was totally against anything Stanley had done” — to ask someone else to direct his film. By the time Steven was set to start the film, following Kubrick’s death (March 7, 1999), Harlan said he had uncovered 1,100 drawings Kubrick had prepared. Harlan said there are other projects Kubrick was preparing in script form. One of ’em, “Napoleon,” he said, was another by Spielberg. Others include “God-Fearing Man,” and “Lunatic at Large.” Harlan says other filmmakers, including Ridley Scott are anxious to make some of these projects.

INSTRUCTIONS FROM STEVEN SPIELBERG: Don’t call to read him the reviews of “A.I.” Don’t call him to read him the opening days’ box office. He’s busy directing his current movie, “Minority Report” (futuristic scenes of the thriller today in Washington D.C.). As always, he remains totally focused on what he’s doing, and not on what he’s done — although he gave some out quotes early on. Kathleen Kennedy, who produced “A.I.” with Steven and who has been working with him for 24 years, is also readying the bow of their “Jurassic Park 3,” July 18 and admits they are busy working on this one “down to the wire.” She says they were working “intensely” for two years on a “24-hour-a-day basis” to get “A.I.” ready to shoot. “We knew it would be extremely challenging.” They shot it completely in 68 days, and on a budget “nowhere near the pictures out this summer.” Yes, “significantly” under $100 million. “It went a little bit over on the f/x. But extremely close.” She reminds that Steven is someone who is clear about costs. “He learned early: ‘1941’. He got blasted by the press.” He has been extremely hard on himself to stay on (below) budget. “It’s all in the preparation,” Kennedy reminds of Spielberg’s clear vision — on paper as well, before starting the first take. “We are all extremely proud of it.” She says Steven planned the movie like three movements in music, opening up to grander and grander scales. He takes you by the hand through the unpredictable experience. It is an “experiential” movie. “Yes, there are reminiscences of other Spielberg (Kennedy) films, like ‘E.T.,’ ‘Close Encounters,’ ‘Empire of the Sun,’ ‘Temple of Doom,’ ” Kennedy allows. “But this one shows how he has matured as a filmmaker.” He also wrote the screenplay.

KATHLEEN KENNEDY SAYS THAT when Kubrick saw “Jurassic Park,” he first talked to Steven about “A.I.” and Steven began the long waffling back and forth on whether this was the project for him. Kennedy says Christiane Kubrick came to Steven after Stanley died and he then decided to do the film. “Steven came to me and we decided to do it,” says Kennedy. “Chris Baker did close to 800 extremely important story boards and we then went into discussions in pre-production on all components of the film. The last thing we wanted to do with this film was to make the audience aware of the special effects — and not the emotions (of the principals).” One of the major reasons “the emotion” is so overpowering in this film is the performance of Haley Joel Osment. It is truly the most amazing performance I’ve seen by any actor — young or older — since the performance by this 11-year-old in “The Sixth Sense.” Kennedy says Haley is still “a very normal kid, with fantastic parents who are intent on keeping him a normal child.” I found them to be so when I spoke to them on locations and at the Academy Awards. “A.I.” is rated PG-13; children Osment’s age cannot and should not see this film, Kennedy allows. Maybe he’ll be able to see one of the future films by Kennedy and Spielberg, “Lincoln.” Also for the future, Kennedy says she believes, “The older Haley gets, he may very well turn to directing — the way he thinks, observes.” Meanwhile, let’s hope he continues to act for a few more years. And that the team on “A.I.” continues to make movies for children of all ages.

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